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Trump 214
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The Khan Story Just Won't Die

Donald Trump managed to do the impossible in the past few days: He united the two parties. Now, both of them are condemning his attacks on the Gold Star Khan family. The story led yesterday in The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and just about every other newspaper that covers national news. It has also been the top story on TV and all over the Internet. Many politicians, such as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), have condemned Trump for what he said, though none of them reversed their endorsements. The Democrats are going to have a field day with these people, pointing out the hypocrisy of forcefully condemning what Trump says but supporting him nonetheless. It probably won't change large numbers of votes, but in a close election 2-3% could make the difference between winning a state and losing it.

Trump reacted to all the negative news by calling CNN a "press shop" for Hillary Clinton and suggesting he might revoke the press credentials of the New York Times. He already revoked those of the Washington Post. If he continues like this, by October, Fox News and the East Cupcake Middle School News will be the only media outlets covering him.

Meanwhile, the story is definitely going to live on at least one more day. Trump friend, associate, and sometime surrogate Roger Stone has gone on record as saying that Khan is himself likely a terrorist, an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood sent to aid Hillary Clinton in her efforts to destroy the United States. In other words, he doubled down. Or tripled down, even. Will Trump distance himself from Stone's remarks? Will he halfheartedly rebuke Stone, a la the KKK endorsements? Or will he second Stone's "suspicions"? We'll find out Tuesday. (V)

Gallup: Democratic Convention Better Than Republican Convention

The purpose of a national convention is to make more people like the party and vote for its candidates. One way to see if they achieved their goals is to look at the polls about how people feel about the parties. Gallup ran a poll on the conventions and came to several conclusions, which are summarized below.

First, the Republican convention was counterproductive, with 52% saying they like Republicans less after watching it and only 35% saying they liked Republicans more. For the Democrats, it was a wash, with 44% being more favorable after it and 42% being less favorable. In politics, as in medicine, the first rule is: "Do no harm." The Republicans harmed themselves in Cleveland. This is the first time since 1984 when Gallup began asking the question that any party's convention has had a negative effect.

Another question Gallup asked was, "Are you more or less likely to vote for the party's presidential candidate as a result of the convention?" First, the Republican convention. Among Republican voters, 73% are more likely to vote for Trump now and 13% are less likely. Among Democrats, 2% are more likely and 88% are less likely to vote for Trump after what they saw. So the convention may have cost the GOP the votes of some Republicans while gaining almost no Democrats. Not so good.

Now the Democratic convention. Among Republicans 8% are more likely to vote for Clinton now and 82% are less likely. Among Democrats, 81% are more likely to vote for Clinton now and 9% are less likely. So, the conclusion is that the conventions helped the Democrats unify around Clinton more than they helped the Republicans unify around Trump. Also, Republicans liked the show in Philadelphia better than the Democrats liked the show in Cleveland.

Finally, how did the candidates' speeches go over? For Clinton 44% said it was excellent/good and 20% said it was poor/terrible. For Trump 35% said it was excellent/good and 26% said it was poor/terrible.

The bottom line is that the Democrats did a far better job than the Republicans convincing the American people that Clinton should be given the keys to the White House than the Republicans did making the case that Trump should get the keys. Things can change, of course, but between the Electoral College map and the public's view of the parties, the Democrats are in the much stronger position right now. (V)

Clinton Leads in New National Polls

In addition to the Gallup poll of what people thought of the conventions, there were two new national polls released yesterday. The CNN/ORC poll has Hillary Clinton at 45%, Donald Trump at 37%, Gary Johnson at 9% and Jill Stein at 5%. The CBS poll has Clinton at 46% and Trump at 39%. CBS didn't ask about Johnson and Stein. So we are back to where we were before the conventions, with Clinton holding a single-digit lead over Trump. (V)

Surprise Endorsements for Clinton and Trump

It's officially less than 100 days to the election, and so the various fence-sitters are running out of time to make their views known. As a consequence, both candidates have picked up some rather unexpected endorsements this week.

Hillary Clinton's biggest recent coup is probably Sally Bradshaw, a longtime major player in Florida Republican politics, and a senior adviser to Jeb Bush's campaign. She has switched her affiliation to independent, explaining that the Republicans are, "at a crossroads and have nominated a total narcissist—a misogynist—a bigot." Bradshaw says that, "This is a time when country has to take priority over political parties," and avers that if the election is close, she will cast her vote for Clinton. It is not impossible that she could drag one or more members of the Bush family over to the blue side, most obviously George H.W. and Babs, who loathe Trump and are close friends with the Clintons. Bradshaw might also move the needle a bit in Florida, the swingiest of swing states, where every little bit helps.

Clinton has also landed the endorsement of Dallas Mavericks owner and Internet billionaire Mark Cuban. Cuban's bio mirrors that of Donald Trump in many ways: wealthy, outspoken, reality TV star. And while he generally plays his politics close to the vest—enough so that his name was floated as a possible VP for both the Republicans and the Democrats—his wealth and his outspoken love of Ayn Rand and objectivism certainly suggest a rightward bent. Not this year, though. Calling Trump a "jagoff," Cuban explained to the crowd at a Pittsburgh rally that, "Leadership is not yelling and screaming and intimidating." He is Trump's equal when it comes to being a Twitter provocateur, and in fact has already taken to the platform to launch several salvos, such as observing that The Donald must be lying about his net worth, or else his campaign would not be having such problems with money.

Meanwhile, while Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is still riding the Trump bandwagon (see below), his family members are jumping ship. The Senator's granddaughter Caroline penned a pointed essay in which she declared, "Following a line of other right-wing wacko birds, Trump insulted a man I esteem and love, a man who has risked his life in service of his country." She also lambasted The Donald's "misogynist" and "racist" remarks.

Trump did pick up a somewhat high-profile endorsement of his own, however. Malik Obama is the President's half-brother; they were once close enough that Malik served as best man at Barack's wedding. The relationship has apparently soured, though, because Malik says he will be voting for Trump in November, since he "comes across as a straightforward guy." Though he is a Muslim, and one who travels regularly back and forth between the U.S. and Nigeria, Obama says he supports Trump's ban on Muslims as a "common sense" policy. It is unclear what has caused Malik to turn against his brother, though he did complain about how difficult it was to get an appointment to see the President. In any event, all of this week's high-profile endorsements are a reminder that politics often makes strange bedfellows. (Z)

Trump Is "Afraid" the Election May Be Rigged

Yesterday Donald Trump took the first steps toward blaming a possible loss in November on something or someone other than Donald Trump. He said: "I'm afraid the election is going to be rigged." He didn't explain who would do the rigging or what the mechanism would be. Most likely he is simply appealing to the supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who believe the Democratic primary was rigged, so why shouldn't the general election be rigged as well? The difference, of course, is that the Democratic National Committee ran the Democratic primary and did, in fact, favor Hillary Clinton. It is not clear at all how the national election would be rigged and by whom. (V)

Trump Raised $36 Million in July

Donald Trump announced yesterday that he raised $36 million from 517,000 donors in July. The average donation was about $69. Clinton has not announced her July fundraising yet. (V)

Trump Fights FireFighters with Fire

There aren't too many sacred cows in American politics. Nonetheless, having made steaks of one of them this week (families of dead veterans), Donald Trump has now decided to make hamburgers of another: firefighters. On Friday of last week, and again on Monday, a fire marshal (in Colorado Springs and Columbus, respectively) cut off admittance into a Trump rally once the rooms had reached their capacities. In Colorado Springs, Trump promptly announced:

So I have to tell you this: This is why our country doesn't work. We have plenty of space here. We have thousands of people outside trying to get in. And we have a fire marshal who said, "Oh we can't allow more people." ... And the reason they won't let them in is because they don't know what the hell they're doing. Hey, maybe they're a Hillary person. Could that be possible? Probably.

He made a nearly identical announcement in Columbus, despite the fact that—in both cases—the campaign had agreed to the limits beforehand, and that the room limits were undoubtedly matters of public safety, not politics.

As we pointed out yesterday, Trump seems to be demonstrating that there is no such thing as "too far" for him. But if "too far" does exist, this kind of thing will be it. Encouraging the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton's emails, or forgetting that Russia has already taken part of the Ukraine, or threatening to pay off the national debt by printing more money, or committing plagiarism—those are all abstractions, and while they may get the wonks' blood boiling, they may not have so much impact with Joe Plumber. On the other hand, attacking veterans, or firefighters (or children, or pet dogs, or police officers, or Jesus, should Trump choose to move on to those sacred cows) is something that voters can and will take personally. Put another way, Trump is playing with fire here, and he could very well get burned. (Z)

Buffett Presses Trump on Tax Returns

There is a line in the 1980s classic Trading Places:

Think big, think positive, never show any sign of weakness. Always go for the throat. Buy low, sell high. Fear? That's the other guy's problem. Nothing you have ever experienced will prepare you for the absolute carnage you are about to witness. Super Bowl, World Series—they don't know what pressure is. In this building, it's either kill or be killed. You make no friends in the pits and you take no prisoners.

The character in question, Louis Winthorpe III, is talking about the world of business, specifically the New York Commodities Exchange. If Donald Trump has ever seen this movie, he probably smiled knowingly when he heard that part. Presumably, he's also learning that it's a pretty good description of running for president. Now that he's the nominee, Trump is taking withering fire from all sides, including from many of his fellow billionaires. Michael Bloomberg hit him at the Democratic convention, Mark Cuban is slamming him on Twitter (see above), and now Warren Buffett has joined the party as well.

Buffett's particular focus is tax returns. Though Trump's refusal to share his returns has been pushed to the back burner, it remains something of an Achilles heel for him. Buffett proposes a "town hall" style meeting, at which he and The Donald will present their returns and then answer questions, "I'll bring my tax return. He can bring his tax return," says the Oracle of Omaha. "Just let people ask us questions about items on there. Nobody is going to arrest us—there are no rules against showing your tax returns." Trump's official reason for not showing his returns is that he is under audit, but Buffett is under audit, too, so that doesn't quite work here. It would seem Trump's only option is to ignore his fellow tycoon, though he's not proven to be great at holding his tongue when someone is getting his goat. Certainly, we can expect Buffett to keep throwing the gauntlet down until it is picked up. So, this subject may be permanently moved back to the front burner. (Z)

The October Surprise Could Be in Iraq

Iraqi and Kurdish military units have the ISIS-held city of Mosul in their gunsights. The offensive, which has been planned for months, is expected to begin in early October. If Mosul is retaken from ISIS, it would a major blow to the terrorist group and would undercut the Republicans' claim that President Obama's anti-terrorist strategy is a failure. It is also likely that the ISIS capital of Raqqa will also come under heavy attack then. The U.S. is deeply involved in those battles, with advisers and trainers helping both the Iraqis and the Kurds. In addition, the U.S. is providing heavy weapons, ammunition, and other supplies to its partners. Finally, the U.S. has carried out 13,000 airstrikes on ISIS targets. (V)

McCain Is Caught Between a Rock and a Border Wall

John McCain is facing the toughest reelection battle of his life. First he has to deal with a primary challenge from a tea party candidate, Kelli Ward, with early voting starting in 2 days. To beat her, he has to move to the right. If he pulls that off on August 30, which is primary election day in Arizona, then he has to change direction immediately and run to the left to fend off Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ). Meanwhile, he is engaged in a fight with Donald Trump over Trump's attacks on the Khan family, while at the same time endorsing Trump. By November, McCain is going to look like a pretzel, and very possibly a no-longer-incumbent pretzel at that. (V)

Wasserman Schultz Leads Her Primary Opponent

Bernie Sanders and his supporters despise former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. They would love to see her lose her Florida primary to a Berniecrat, Tim Canova. However, they may not get their wish. A poll released by Canova's campaign shows her leading him 46% to 38%. Generally, when a candidate releases a poll showing that he is losing, the reality is even worse than the poll. In any event, she is far from dead meat with only a month to go before the primary. (V)

Trump Praises Ryan's Primary Challenger

Why make life easy for yourself when you can make it difficult? Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) aren't really buddy-buddy, but Ryan is the country's highest-ranking Republican and does have some influence with the media and Republican voters, so unnecessarily antagonizing him would not seem to be a smart move. Naturally yesterday Trump praised Ryan's primary opponent, businessman Paul Nehlen. Of course, if Nehlen knocks off Ryan in the primary next Tuesday, it will make him look like a giant killer. But if Ryan wins, it will make Trump look like a loser. And even if Ryan loses, having an angry Ryan still around until the election can't be in Trump's interest. (V)

Today's Presidential Polls

RABA Research has Trump up by +4% in Virginia. This looks suspcious since Clinton has been doing well in Virginia all year and the addition of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) surely did not do damage. Most likely this is just a statistical fluctuation. That poll had a margin of error of 4%, meaning that there is a 95% chance Clinton is in the range 38% to 46% and Trump is in the range 42% to 50%. And there is a 5% chance the numbers are outside this range (2 sigma for math lovers). (V)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
Georgia 42% 46% 5% Jul 29 Jul 31 SurveyUSA
Nevada 41% 40%   Jul 29 Jul 31 Rasmussen
Oklahoma 29% 53%   Jul 20 Jul 25 Sooner Poll
Pennsylvania 45% 42% 4% Jul 29 Jul 31 PPP
Virginia 42% 46% 7% Jul 26 Jul 27 RABA Research

Today's Senate Polls

We have a Rasmussen poll showing that Nevada is a virtual tie. It is likely to stay that way all year. A great deal depends on whether the Democrats can register and turn out large numbers of Latinos. If Cortez Masto wins, she would be the first Latina senator. (V)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Georgia Jim Barksdale 39% Johnny Isakson* 48% Jul 29 Jul 31 SurveyUSA
Nevada Catherine Cortez Masto 41% Joe Heck 42% Jul 29 Jul 31 Rasmussen

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug01 Clinton Gets Convention Bounce
Aug01 Koch Brothers Will Not Help Trump
Aug01 Top Sanders Surrogate May Join Green Ticket
Aug01 The Battle for Pennsylvania Is All About Geography
Aug01 Ohio Is Also about Geography
Aug01 The Debate Schedule Will Not Be Changed
Aug01 Counties and Towns Purge Minority Voters
Aug01 Ghazala Khan Speaks Out
Aug01 Did Trump Go Too Far?
Aug01 Trump Stumbles on Ukraine
Aug01 New York Post Runs Nude Picture of Melania Trump on the Front Page
Aug01 Wasserman Schultz's Headaches Aren't Over
Jul31 The Convention Ratings Are In
Jul31 Federal Court Strikes Down Wisconsin Voter ID Law
Jul31 Trump Will Concentrate on Only Four States
Jul31 Trump's Racism Could Cost Him White Votes
Jul31 Trump Is Likely To Have Trouble in Colorado
Jul31 Why Trump Might Avoid the Debates
Jul31 Trump in War of Words With Khizr Khan
Jul31 The Luddites Strike Back
Jul31 How Should the U.S. Strike Back at Russia's Hacking?
Jul31 How Does Steve King Keep Getting Elected?
Jul30 General Election Expected To Be the Ugliest in Memory
Jul30 Trump Attacks the Democrats in a Massive Tweet Storm
Jul30 Will Trump Show Up For Debates?
Jul30 Federal Court Strikes Down North Carolina Voter ID Law
Jul30 Manafort Explains Why Women Will Vote for Trump
Jul30 Do Republican and Democratic States Brag About Different Things?
Jul30 Bernie-or-Bust Delegates Are Not Conceding
Jul30 Sanders Delegates Blame Him for DNC Chaos
Jul30 Koch Brothers Reject the Idea of Meeting with Trump
Jul30 The World Wide Web Is Like the Wild, Wild West
Jul30 One of the Women Who Said Yes to Roger Ailes Give Long Interview
Jul29 Democratic Convention, Day 4: Clinton Gets the Job Done
Jul29 Has Trump Violated the Logan Act?
Jul29 Trump to Dems: Your Worldview is a Fantasy
Jul29 Billionaires Urge Koch Brothers to Back Trump
Jul29 Rubio Thinks Trump Will Learn on the Job
Jul29 How Asian-Americans Became Democrats
Jul29 New Stars Shine at the Democratic Convention
Jul29 Joe Biden Loves the Word 'Malarkey' but Americans Don't Know What It Means
Jul29 Tim Kaine Plays the Harmonica
Jul28 Democratic Convention, Day 3: Another Good Night for the Blue Team
Jul28 Trump Calls for Russia to Find Hillary Clinton's Deleted Emails
Jul28 Security Expert: Russian Hackers Could Target Voting Machines in November
Jul28 Suburban Women Are the Big Prize
Jul28 Soros Getting Back in the Game
Jul28 Are the DNC and RNC Being Held in the Same Country?
Jul28 Trump Will Definitely Not Release His Tax Returns
Jul28 Historic Event Noted with Photos of ... Bill